While the results of the weekend may have been straightforward from a favorites standpoint, there was still abundant drama in the way the results came about. Missed kicks, gruesome injuries, baffling time outs, a Kansas Jayhawk passing touchdown and a showdown between two of the conference's hottest teams becomes... a defensive slog? Big 12 football in 2016, everyone.
Iowa St. Cycones 31, Kansas Jayhawks 24
The Big 12's bottom feeders have both dealt with inconsistencies this year, but have generally made strides each week. Iowa State started ahead of KU this season, and the results of this one bear it out- the Cyclones continues two quarterback shuffle wasn't particularly effective, as running QB Joel Lanning was stifled, while Jacob Park was effective throwing, but looked a bit out of rhythm when taking over after a Lanning series. What was particularly interesting is that last year's offensive revelation, RB Mike Warren, was limited to just three touches, and instead freshman David Montgomery led a very effective ground game plan for the Cyclones that racked up over 200 rushing yards (Montgomery contributing 169 himself) against a surprisingly decent KU d-line. On the KU side, for just the fifth game this season, the Jayhawks had a passing touchdown- which combined with an actually moderately accurate passing game to keep KU in this one and even in control of the game until the fourth quarter when the Jayhawks became one dimensional due to time issues and they ended up throwing their only pick. Much like the in-state rival Wildcats, the Jayhawks simply don't have the weapons to stretch a field and create a vertical passing game to support their run game, which meant that when they couldn't set up the pass with the run, they simply couldn't pass at all. Still, it was a much needed win for the ISU coaching staff, and not necessarily a crushing loss for KU- the hole that Charlie Weis dug for them will simply take a very, very long time to dig out of. They did break out the trick kickoff return that you may remember from our game against OU, though, which gives me those warm 2014 feelings. Good times.
Wide Right and Natty Lite noted just the facts, while Rock Chalk Talk called the loss a mauling... um. You guys should know better than anyone what a mauling is, so... I guess maybe from a feelings perspective?
Oklahoma Sooners 45, Baylor Bears 24
How things change in just three weeks. Three weeks ago, Baylor was looking to make the playoff committee engage in some extremely uncomfortable discussions, but in the games that have followed the Bears endured a gut punch road loss to Texas, a humiliating beatdown at home by rival TCU and in yesterday's defeat to OU you can hear the sound of water draining away as a controversial but potentially promising season is now circling the drain. Not only did Baylor lose soundly to the Sooners, they were never within even ten points of the Big 12 title front runner after the first quarter, as every time Baylor flashed a bit of momentum OU was quick to answer. It honestly seemed like TCU may have broken the spirit of the Bears last week, as Baylor looked to be going through the motions of their once record setting offense- attempts to establish the run, which were generally stuffed for a few yards, with only the odd keeper by Russell being a consistent run threat. As a result the play action deep shots downfield were well covered, leading to Russell completing under 50% of his passes for a very un-Baylor like 4.8 yards per shot. Even their famous fourth down efforts tended to result in failure more often than usual, leading to a very disappointing afternoon that turned absolutely catastrophic when on a nine yard scramble, Seth Russell went down with an absolutely horrifying looking leg injury. It has presently been confirmed as a dislocated ankle with future scans to come, but I'd frankly be surprised if that turned out to be all- do yourselves a favor and don't look at the video of this one. On the OU side, the Sooners once again took care of business on offense, with the Sooners reminding the conference of just how dangerous their offense can be when they have all three heads of the Mayfield/Perine/Mixon hydra backfield all working in sync. Mayfield passed for a crisp 300 yards at an unreal 80% completion rate for 12.8 yards per attempt, Mixon and Perine both had over 100 yards rushing, with Perine doing the grinding and Mixon getting the big chunks of yards. The question for the Sooners are still on the defensive side, as Mike Stoops' charges have done acceptable work against the lite edition of the Baylor offense, as well as against Kansas and Iowa State, but none are particularly offensively fierce at the moment. Can they put together the stops to clinch the Big 12 is a question that will only start to be answered next week.
Crimson and Cream Machine offers the creatively titled "Baylor Recap" this week, while Our Daily Bears notes that the Bears have lost three consecutive games for the first time since 2012- but at least it looked like they were trying.
It's fortunate that it takes a long time to reload a musket, because West Virginia's offense seemed absolutely determined to shoot itself in the foot as often as it could be managed, only for the defense to sigh, tape up the wound and get back to the business of trying to win the football game. Skyler Howard had his second disastrous road outing, throwing three(!) picks compared to just one touchdown, part of four Mountaineer turnovers on the day that repeatedly gave Texas life, even as the defense was putting the clamps on the Horns hard. Texas RB D'Onta Foreman, who has been running roughshod over the conference, needed a 32 yard burst to get his YPC average up to a respectable 4.8, but was kept out of the end zone. Shane Buechele threw for over 300 yards, but at just 6.6 YPA and taking four sacks, it was all in the Mountaineer gameplan. Whether you want to chalk the turnovers up to continued improvement from Charlie Strong taking over the defense or just Howard having issues on the road though, West Virginia's defense continued to look the part of a true national contender, even while being decimated by injuries. If I'm a G5 school in need of a coach, I'd be giving WVU DC Tony Gibson a very long look right about now- Buffalo, Ball State, Cincy, Tulane, I'm looking at you guys.
If Big 12 play has taught us anything this year, it's that kickers named Hatfield can not be trusted in the clutch. This game featured wild momentum swings and points aplenty, as OSU's generally moribund running game came alive against the wet paper towel of Texas Tech's rush defense (TCU fans mutter about playcalling here) and Mason Rudolph just destroyed the Tech secondary to the tune of a 71.4% completion rate at over 14 yards per attempt, and Tech's offense was... Tech-y. Mahomes put up another great performance through the air and Kingsbury's running game tweaks continued to play dividends in taking some of the pressure off of the Big 12's most dangerous man. In many areas the two teams were evenly matched, with OSU taking double digit leads in the second and fourth quarter, only for Tech to answer to tie just before halftime and drive for the tying score... only for Tech's Clayton Hatfield to miss the extra point. What followed is one of the strangest end game sequences I've ever seen, as Texas Tech failed to recover the onside kick, and gave up a first down on OSU's first run out the clock run. The Raiders took a time out, because they would still like to win the game. Then OSU picked up another 12 yards on their second run out the clock run, and... the Cowboys took a time out? Yep! Despite there being less than 90 seconds left, the Cowboys took a time out for reasons that absolutely defy explanation, and it almost came back to bite them as Tech got decent stops on the Cowboys next two runs and immediately took time outs to set up a third and one on the Tech 7 yard line with 1:09 to play. The Cowboys once again picked up the first down, and despite him being in the open field, the Raiders didn't let OSU simply score the touchdown once he was past the first down marker- which would have either made it an 8 point game with a minute to play, still winnable, or a two point conversion stop away from a 7 point game. There's no point of tackling him on the two when you don't have any time outs left, Raiders, if anything you should have been pushing him into the end zone so you could have a chance to win. And even though it cost them to chance to win, it still wasn't as dumb as OSU taking that time out- I will simply never understand it.
Viva the Matadors is concerned that opponents are starting to figure Mahomes out, while Cowboys Ride for Free has nothing as of yet- I assume that they're all trying to figure out why they called that time out as well.